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Investing, Stocks  | December 19, 2018

Warren Buffett once said, “It is far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”  The strategy is very simple – find stocks that are trading below their inherent worth.

Investment in stocks made on diligent value analysis is usually considered one of the best practices. In value investing, investors pick stocks that are cheap but fundamentally sound. So, chances are high that these stocks will allow investors to book profits when the market trends upward.

There are a number of ratios to identify value stocks but none alone can conclusively determine their inherent potential. Each ratio helps an investor to understand a particular aspect of the company’s business. One such ratio, Price to Cash Flow (or P/CF), can work wonders in stock picking, if used prudently. This metric evaluates the market price of a stock relative to the amount of cash flow that the company is generating on a per share basis – the lower the number, the better.

Why Price to Cash Flow?

You must be wondering why we are considering this when the most widely used valuation metric is Price/Earnings (or P/E). Well, one of the important factors that makes P/CF a highly dependable metric is that operating cash flow adds back non-cash charges such as depreciation and amortization to net income, truly diagnosing the financial health of a company.

Analysts caution that a company’s earnings are subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. Then again, cash flow is quite reliable. Net cash flow unveils how much money a company is actually generating and how effectively management is deploying the same.

A positive cash flow indicates an increase in the company’s liquid assets. This gives the company the means to settle debt, shell out for its expenses, reinvest in its business, endure downturns and finally undertake shareholder-friendly moves. On the other hand, a negative cash flow implies a decline in the company’s liquidity, which in turn lowers its flexibility to support these endeavors.

However, an investment decision solely based on the P/CF metric may not fetch the desired results. To identify stocks that are trading at a discount, you should expand your search criteria and take into account price-to-book ratio, price-to-earnings ratio and price-to-sales ratio. Adding a favorable Zacks Rank and a Value Score of A or B to your search criteria should lead to even better results as these eliminate the chance of falling into a value trap.

The Bargain Hunting Strategy

Here are the parameters for selecting true value stocks:

P/CF less than or equal to X-Industry Median.

Price greater than or equal to 5:The stocks must all be trading at a minimum of $5 or higher.

Average 20-Day Volume greater than 100,000: A substantial trading volume ensures that the stock is easily tradable.

P/E using (F1) less than or equal to X-Industry Median: This parameter shortlists stocks that are trading at a discount or are equal to its peers.

P/B less than or equal to X-Industry Median: A lower P/B compared with the industry average implies that there is enough room for the stock to gain.

P/S less than or equal to X-Industry Median: The P/S ratio determines how a stock price compares to the company’s sales — the lower the ratio the more attractive the stock is.

PEG less than 1: The ratio is used to determine a stock's value by taking the company's earnings growth into account. PEG ratio gives a more complete picture than P/E ratio. A value of less than 1 indicates that the stock is undervalued and that investors need to pay less for a stock that has robust earnings growth prospect.

Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) stocks are known to outperform irrespective of the market environment.

Value Score of less than or equal to B: Our research shows that stocks with a Style Score of A or B when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential. 

Here are four of the 17 stocks that qualified the screening:

Daqo New Energy Corp. has an expected EPS growth rate of 29% for 3-5 years and pulled off an average positive earnings surprise of 15.3% in the trailing four quarters. The manufacturer and seller of polysilicon and wafers sports a Zacks Rank #1.

ArcBest Corporation has an expected EPS growth rate of 43.3% for 3-5 years and delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 144.6% in the trailing four quarters. This Zacks Rank #2 company provides freight transportation services and integrated logistics solutions.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for Citizens Bank, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, which provide retail and commercial banking products and services. This Zacks Rank #2 company delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 3.6% over the trailing four quarters and has a 15.5% expected EPS growth rate for 3-5years.

General Motors Company designs, builds and sells cars, trucks, and automobile parts worldwide. It has a Zacks Rank #2 and expected EPS growth rate of 8.5% for 3-5years. The company delivered positive earnings surprises in the trailing four quarters at an average of 21.8%.


A revolutionary initiative is helping average Americans find quick and lasting stock market success.

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